C.W. Lewis Stadium played host to its final Friday night Benton Panther football game and El Dorado spoiled the party. The Wildcats closed C.W Lewis the same way the it opened it 76 years ago with a win over Benton.
El Dorado (6-3, 5-1) defeated Benton (3-6, 2-4) by a score of 38-0. The Wildcats rolled up 395 yards against an injury-riddled Panther defense and held the Benton offense to 169 yards of total offense.
Benton took the game’s opening kickoff and reached Wildcat territory thanks to a 30-yard run by senior running back Wallace Foote. But the Wildcat defense forced a Panther punt by Stone Paul that was returned for 14 yards. A facemask penalty was tacked on to the return setting up the Wildcats at the Panther 45-yard line.
El Dorado scored on their first play from scrimmage when Joshua Brock raced 45 yards down the sideline. Trent Harter connected his first of five PAT’s to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
Benton’s next possession resulted in a fumble when Panther quarterback Grayson Chilton and running back Shaun Carey misconnected on an option pitch. The turnover was the first of four to plague the Panther offense during the game.
El Dorado drove the ball to the Panther 10-yard line before Jesse Benton intercepted a Lucas Reed pass in the end zone. Reed was forced to throw under pressure applied by Andrew Perez resulting in the interception.
The Wildcats would again force a Panther turnover when Jarvis Davis intercepted a Chilton pass at the Benton 44-yard line. Five plays later, the Wildcats scored again when Reed hit Sandy Brown for a 21-yard touchdown.
The quick-strike Wildcats would again score following a Benton three-and-out possession. Reed threw a pass into the flat that Brock took 35 yards to the end zone to make it 21-0.
Benton would sustain their best drive of the night on their following possession when the Panthers reached the Wildcat 21-yard line. However, Chilton lost his footing on the wet turf while rolling out on a fourth-down attempt.
El Dorado responded by marching 70 yards in 13 plays. Marque Burris scored from 2 yards out to push the lead to 28-0.
The Wildcats scored again before halftime on a 25-yard field goal by Harter to give El Dorado a comfortable 31-0 halftime lead.
El Dorado recovered a Tanner Westpheling onside kick to begin the second half and covered 52 yards on 7 plays for the game’s final score. Brock scored from 6 yards and Harter’s extra point pushed the lead to 38-0 and the sportsmanship rule went into effect.
Benton would threaten to score late in the third quarter when the Panthers got as far as the Wildcat 10-yard line. Three lost yardage runs and an incomplete pass left Benton out of the end zone.
Foote again led the Panther offense, rushing for 136 yards on 17 carries. Boone Cox caught 3 passes for 22 yards.
Brant Stout led the Panther defense with 10 tackles. Benton (9 tackles and an interception), Ryan Rodriguez (9 tackles), Cole Glover (8 tackles), Zach Smiley (5 tackles, 2 tackles-for-loss) and Connor Henningsen (4 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss) also played well for the Benton defense.
Life in the rugged 6A South doesn’t get any easier next week for Benton. The Panthers will travel to Pine Bluff on Thursday night to play the conference leading Zebras. The Zebras have wrapped away the conference’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs and will bring a 9-1, 6-0 record into the game. Kickoff next Thursday night in Pine Bluff will be at 7 p.m.